AN alarming number of Port Elizabeth motorists are guilty of talking on their cellphones while driving – which is almost as dangerous as drinking and driving. And the worst offenders are women.
In a survey over a five-day period in the city last month, more than 7000 drivers were spotted tapping out messages or chatting on their hand-held phones while on the road. Of the 7650 culprits, 59% were women.
The survey was done by Port Elizabeth research company Listen To Survey.
Hundreds of tests around the world have already shown the dangers of using a cellphone while driving, with some comparing it to driving under the influence of liquor.
Listen To Survey principal Richard Holton said yesterday that the findings of the survey were shocking.
The company placed 20 people at various points around the city. They counted the culprits at traffic lights, shopping centres, the beachfront, government buildings, schools and on freeways.
"The traffic department has some work to do to educate all of us about the dangers of using cellphones while driving,” Holton said.
He said the cellphone spotters also tried to record the offenders' ages. It was found that almost half of the culprits fell in the 36 to 55 years age group, while the 26- to 35-year-olds trailed slightly behind at 37%.
Surprisingly, 18- to 25-year- olds comprised only 17% of the total number of offenders. Only 5% of the culprits were over 55.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality can fine offenders R750 at present. The survey was carried out for a cellphone company which plans on launching a new hands-free kit.